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Lasers light the way for energy source?

Lasers, once the schtick of baddies in James Bond films, Pink Floyd concerts and scallywags, could be the next big commercial energy source – researchers suggest…

A European research group will harness natures prime energy source – Fusion – to demonstrate a credible path to laser driven fusion as a commercial energy production source and offer a broad based science research facility.

With physicists and government officials from 10 countries they signed an agreement today to coordinate a three-year preparatory phase to establish the planning and design for the full High Power Laser for Energy Research  (HiPER) facility.

“This is a really exciting time for fusion,” said Professor Mike Dunne, director of Photon Science at the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

“The European community has defined a strategic way forward, centred on this new project. Some 26 institutions from across 10 nations are working together to meet this challenge – combining the science of the extreme with one of the most compelling issues facing our society. Fusion is not a short term fix, but is designed to meet the long terms needs of our civilisation.”

The proof of principle of laser fusion is anticipated in the next few years based on two very large-scale lasers currently nearing completion in California and Bordeaux, marking the culmination of over 50 years of research.

The HiPER laser will also enable researchers to study some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, reaching temperatures and pressures only otherwise found at the centre of the sun.

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